In this era of shifting geopolitical boundaries, numerous books and articles question what "American" literature is, what "the literary" is, and how what is called early American literature can best be taught. This fifteenth volume of the MLA series Options for Teaching examines these issues and offers approaches and methods to help teachers and their students reconceptualize early American literatures as a complex body of multifaceted works rather than as merely an offshoot of British culture or a putatively American past.
Part 1 consists of both multidisciplinary approaches and more narrowly framed investigations. Some essays discuss the rewards of teaching early American materials from groups not considered dominant--Native Americans, African Americans, women, French and Spanish colonials. Others treat English and Anglo-American writings, including those of the Puritans, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, and American Enlightenment thinkers. Four essays on genre studies focus on early poetry, fiction, drama, autobiography, and captivity narratives.
In part 2, five teachers describe courses they have taught and give detailed syllabi. Completing the book is a bibliographic essay that reviews existing literature in the areas covered and provides a quick survey of secondary materials.
Designed for teachers at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Teaching the Literatures of Early America shows the rigorous, invigorating, and innovative ways in which scholars and teachers have been addressing the richness and variety of early materials.
Carla Mulford, associate professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, was the founding president of the Society of Early Americanists and the editor of colonial materials for the canon-shifting Heath Anthology of American Literature (1sted., 1990). Her publications include over twenty-five essays, as well as John Leacock's First Book of the American Chronicles of the Times, 1774-1775 (1987); Only for the Eye of a Friend: The Poems of Annis Boudinot Stockton (1995); a Penguin Classics edition of W. H. Brown's The Power of Sympathy and H. W. Foster's The Coquette (1996); and American Women Prose Writers to 1820, with Angela Vietto and Amy E. Winans (1998).